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Privacy in the Developing World

Building capacity and conducting research across the developing world.

We are living in a pivotal moment for the right to privacy in developing countries and emerging democracies. With new technologies empowering people around the world, and altering our relationships with governments and the corporate sector, strong legal frameworks are required to ensure that rights are adequately protected.

The complex process of negotiating privacy within this context is especially fraught in developing countries. It is here that technologies have the potential to be at their most transformative, by giving individuals the ability to access to information, express themselves, and participate in local and global discussions in unprecedented ways.

However, even as new technologies and capabilities flood into developing countries, the technical knowledge necessary to design legislative frameworks remains in short supply. At the same time, international regulatory consensus has yet to emerge around issues of data protection, and regional agreements remain in flux, depriving policymakers in developing countries of strong guidance and best practice upon which to base their own regulatory frameworks.

Consequently, developing countries are emerging as some of the world’s worst privacy violators: spying on their citizens, conducting extensive surveillance without a legal basis, actively censoring the internet, and failing to protect the privacy of personal data and digital communications. Such practices persistently violate the right to privacy while also threatening the enjoyment of other human rights. As the right to privacy becomes more and more embattled across the developing world, there is an urgent need to educate citizens and policy-makers about fortifying legal protections.

Privacy International is working to strengthen the advocacy capabilities and communication skills of civil society, and provide them with resources to ensure that governments are held to account, corporate influence is exposed, and citizens are empowered to claim their rights. In addition to conducting and supporting research and policy engagement,  we also conduct advocacy and intervene in cases in national, regional and international human rights fora to advance the right to privacy.

Our research and engagement agenda

Privacy International currently works with partner organisations in 17 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America to conduct research in developing countries directed at the following objectives:

  1. To identify the state of privacy protections in partner countries, and comparable standards and best practices, in order to facilitate policy engagement efforts designed to encourage the adoption, strengthening and  implementation of data protection frameworks.
  2. To understand the design and operation of different communications regimes, and to uncover surveillance practices, to socialise norms of  privacy in communications and advocate for legislative and regulatory  protections in communications systems.
  3. To establish the appropriate legal frameworks to implement advanced surveillance techniques within the confines of the rule of law.
  4. To uncover the nature and operation of local intelligence services, and advocate for the strengthening of oversight mechanisms.
  5. To reveal that measures taken in the name of development and security may lead to the quashing of dissent, the violation of sexual and reproductive rights, and the entrenchment of social divides.
  6. To critically analyse the state of privacy protections in public service delivery, with a particular focus on e-health systems and social protection programmes.
  7. To extend existing research and advocacy efforts to new countries and regions where ID and biometrics is emerging as a key topic of public discourse.

Click here to read more about our global research agenda.

Our partners

Click here to find out more about Privacy International's partner organisations and academics in developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Our international advocacy efforts

Privacy International works in national, regional and international human rights fora to advocate for stronger protections for privacy in the developing world. Some of our initiatives include:

Privacy in the Developing World

Report
29-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in the Philippines. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. 

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
14-Nov-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in India. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. 

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
23-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in Pakistan. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. 

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
23-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in Bangladesh. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. 

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
22-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in Nepal. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. 

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
22-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in Indonesia. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. 

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
22-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of telecommunications privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in India. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada.

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
22-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in China. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada.

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
22-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in Thailand. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada.

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

Report
22-Oct-2012

This country report is an evaluation of privacy and surveillance laws, policies and practices in Malaysia. It was produced under the 'Privacy in the Developing World' project, funded by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. 

We aim to keep our knowledge of the state of privacy across the world as up-to-date as possible - it is a huge undertaking and we are always keen to gather more local knowledge. If you have some information to share or you spot an error, please drop us a line at info@privacy.org. If you would like to support this crucial research project, please consider making a donation.

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